Published by Spencer Hill Press on April 14th 2015
Source: BEA, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.
Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma's flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she's also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there's something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek--he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.
As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa's pain, it forces him to look beyond the façade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn't everything--maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.
I’d heard good things about Michelle Smith’s novel, Play On, so I went in with pretty high expectations. While it wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be, it definitely grabbed my attention and kept me entertained for the few hours it took me to read it. This is a quick read that was actually a lot deeper than I thought it would be.
Play On is full of southern charm, boys in baseball pants, romance, and secrets. It’s a contemporary lovers dream. I knew from the start that I was going to like it. Austin Braxton is the star pitcher for his high school baseball team. He’s also a true southern gentleman. When he sets his sights on Marisa Marlowe, she has no clue what she’s in for. Austin was a total sweetheart and he was willing to do whatever it took to get Marisa to fall for him. He was born and bred in the south and he was all about taking care of his mom, treating a lady right, and playing baseball. Marisa, on the other hand, was new to all of that. She was born and raised in Maryland and she did not know what to do with Austin. They were super cheesy together but adorable at the same time.
The baseball aspect was done well. It was not overdone and it was easy to understand for anyone who might not be so into baseball. I love sports books but sometimes it’s just too much for me. That was not the case with Play On. It didn’t dominate the story but it was also a very important aspect that couldn’t be ignored. I was able to appreciate how much baseball mattered to Austin and his small-town but also focus on the romance as well as the deeper stuff going on with Austin and Marisa.
I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to be a bit cryptic here but Marisa was definitely hiding some things from Austin. I had some guesses but I was way off. Her secrets were dark and heartbreaking. She was able to present herself as a happy, carefree teenager but that was just a facade. As Austin and Marisa got closer, her secrets came to the surface and they definitely tore me apart. It’s hard not to feel for Marisa and everything she is going through. It helped that Austin was a complete sweetheart through it all.
The romance between Austin and Marisa was a bit too cheesy for my tastes. I was born and raised in the south and let me just tell you, I never met a guy who talked like Austin. He was just a bit too perfect! I really wanted to see more of his flaws, especially since Marisa clearly had some. I would have been able to appreciate him just a bit more if he ever did something wrong. Maybe that’s just me though.
Overall, Play On won’t top my list of favorites but it’s certainly worth a read. Any book that can get me to tear up as many times as this one did definitely deserves to be checked out!
What others are saying about Play On:
Book Rock Betty’s review: “If you like sweet sports romance, give this one a shot!”
A Reader of Fictions’ review: “At the outset, I struggled with the dialect, but ultimately the wonderful messages and adorable romances made Play On a book that I’ll happily endeavor to push on all of you.”
Polished Page Turners’ review: “All of the elements come together nicely to create a great story that is neither too light or too heavy.”